The Malta Independent 5 August 2021, Thursday

‘Alice fl-art tal-għeġubijiet’

Tuesday, 15 June 2021, 11:39 Last update: about 3 months ago

Translated by Clare Azzopardi and Leanne Ellul

The fantastical story by Lewis Carroll Alice in Wonderland is one of the cornerstones of children's English literature. The rabbit that races against time, Alice who falls into the rabbit hole and grows or shrinks according to what she eats, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare in their magical tea party ... these have all become staple images familiar with generations of children and adults.

There are, you will say, countless editions and versions of this incredible story. But Italian publisher Erickson International, known for their sensitivity to children with differing reading needs and levels, has managed to do something new and exciting with it.

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As part of their project called Easy Classics Series with author Carlo Scataglini, Erickson have taken it onto themselves to publish children's literary classics in cleverly simplified versions, with constant aids and nudges to help even the most reluctant of readers. Scataglini explained the rationale behind publishing these: "The classics are wonderful stories that belong to everyone. They are timeless and bring together different generations - parents and their children, teachers and their pupils, young and old. And it is because they are stories which belong to everyone that it seems fair that they are made accessible to all with simplifications even to children and teenagers who have reading difficulties."

And Merlin Publishers have partnered with Erickson to publish, this time in Maltese, one of the greatest classics of all time, Alice fl-art tal-għeġubijiet.

The idea is to make this fantastical story accessible to a younger audience but also to assist those children who have reading difficulties or are simply reluctant readers, and encourage them to read independently. A great tool in the hands of parents and teachers alike, there are a number of features deployed in this book to achieve this goal.

Alice fl-art tal-għeġubijiet is printed on cream-coloured paper with a flowing and relatively large font for easy legibility. There is a careful and deliberate choice of words, sentence structure and verb tenses. The vocabulary is kept basic and simple, the trickier words in the text have been marked in blue and idioms are marked in brown. Each of these words and idioms are then defined and explained at the end of each chapter.

Even the layout and chapter format of the book is thought out to facilitate and assist reading, with the use of symbols that will be familiar with children, inspired by the symbols common on remote controls used to access TV streaming sites. Apart from an illustrated index and a character presentation page, each chapter includes a visual introduction to those characters the children will be meeting in that chapter. This is a very practical way of helping the child not feel overwhelmed by too many characters in a story, as it helps them focus only on the characters appearing in that particular chapter.

Each chapter also starts with a summary of what happened before and a short preview or "coming next" of the chapter. Again, the mnemonics are visual cues and the idea of short recaps helps as a pre-task for readers to prepare themselves for the chapter they are about to read.

Alice fl-art tal-għeġubijiet includes a fun section at the end, with games and activities for children to enjoy and apply what they have read.

The book is enriched with beautiful illustrations, giving the story the right magical atmosphere. The translation of this first book in the Easy Classics Series in Maltese is by authors Clare Azzopardi and Leanne Ellul.

'Alice fl-art tal-għeġubijiet' is available from all bookshops or directly online from www.merlinpublishers.com with free postage to Malta and Gozo

 

 


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